Article by Alex Samuels, Texas Tribune
Less than a week after several other states approved measures weakening marijuana restrictions, some Texas lawmakers are looking to do the same.
On Monday, the first day of bill filing for the 2017 legislative session, Lone Star State legislators submitted several proposals to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Among the bills are those that would create a specialty court for certain first-time marijuana possession offenders, reduce criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and re-classify convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana.
On Nov. 8, voters in California, Maine, Nevada and Massachusetts approved recreational marijuana initiatives, adding them to a growing list of states — including Colorado and Washington — that have already approved the drug for recreational use. Voters in Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas also approved medicinal marijuana initiatives. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 28 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico now allow comprehensive public medical marijuana and cannabis programs.
In 2015, Texas lawmakers proposed a number of unsuccessful bills to decriminalize marijuana, including one by Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, that would have legalized possessing or using marijuana.
In March 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott said during a press conference that lawmakers would not approve legislation that would legalize marijuana. Asked this week about that statement, an Abbott spokesman said there had been “no change.”